Letters to the Editor

The Family Business


In response to “The Hidden Playground” from The Escapist Forum: I can’t help but wonder if this free-range kids movement was started by human slave traffickers hit hard by the lack of kids wandering the streets and being left in front of shops.

But seriously, suburban sprawl is just as much (if not more) to blame. Send a kid outside now-a-days, where the hell is (s)he going to go? Only the nice neighborhoods have parks you want your kids hanging out at. The fact of the matter is that (by money or age restrictions) kids don’t have a lot of options open to them like people who are over 21 (in the states) do.

Another thing I noticed: parents are lazy. My mom used to take me all over the place; I’ve probably been to every park in the tri-state area. If parents are concerned, they should take their kids out. It’s also easier for the kid; who doesn’t have a drivers license yet.


I would also like to make a few pointes on child rearing and such.

“Free play” is (if I remember correctly) the term used by scientists to denote the rules free, imaginative, off-the-hook, kind of play taht children do if left to their opwn devices for more than fifteen seconds. I reacaall reading a study that showed correaltion between stress levels, memory, attention span and a few other things to that of the ammount of free play that the child indulged in. Granted this article was on Japanese children ad was more of a lament on the ammount of schooling they were forced into from an early agge, but I still find it relevant to point out that free play, and rough play, are very important for a child. It teaches about how to use their bodies, it strengthens ties and it teaches empathy for tohers thorugh the argumetns and hurts suffered. A computer game may well be a substitute for some of this (multiplayer and all that) but I would agree with Shigeru Miyamoto on the point that “if it’s nice, go outside”. Since a computer game, much like a game of football or even tag, have predefined rules that do not constitute to “free play”.

I sort of forgot where I was going with this but…so there! I said something!


In response to “Gamer-Size Me” from The Escapist Forum: I swear, everyone misses the point. Consider this:

You want me to exercise. I am just sitting here minding my own business. You want me to start running, and I don’t want to start running. What can you do to get me to run? I’m not exaggerating when I say you’d have to chase me with the threat of violence. You’d better have a chainsaw or a pet lion or I’m sitting right here, thanks.

Or, here’s a better solution: throw a frisbee. I’ll fuggin’ run fullspeed after that bitch! And if you put skates on me and give me a stick and puck, I’ll exercise even harder, because to me hockey is even more fun than frisbee.

My point is that fun is the best motivator. These games shouldn’t provide shame as content; games are supposed to be fun! They should just be more fun to play, to the point where you want to do it daily. I tell you, when somebody figures out how to make players exercise when playing a really fun game (such as Left 4 Dead), suddenly you’ll see a lot more gamers in terrific shape.


Hmmm…. games can be a good source of inspiration, but in a surprising way.

I started running after having spent a few years watching my avatar running everywhere in City of Heroes. I thought “He looks pretty fit. I’d be sooo fit too if I ran around like that.”

And whaddya know? It worked! I now run 3-milers three times a week, with the odd 6-miler thrown in on the weekend when I have more time. And just like an MMO, I’m grinding my speed and my distance with the aid of my handy GPS. And enjoying the photorealistic scenery, of course.

Next on my list – trying out my avatar’s flight power; that looks like fun!


In response to “Step Into the Light” from The Escapist Forum: Great article. It’s incredibly ironic to me that in fielding so many of these game damning reports, these game journalists themselves ignore the source material and instead focus on a secondary or tertiary level source. While I understand the pressing need to immediately go out and defend your lifestyle, misquoting or responding to a non existent threat does nothing more than make us look foolish. The violent and rabid 12 year olds do a well enough job for that and any further fuel for the fire just makes it harder for people to take us more seriously, even if those people are the 1% of a population who actually read the source material.

I think questioning their journalistic responsibility is interesting as well. I don’t think this is a symptom of games journalism but the news media in general.

Integrity is very rarely heard nowadays and it’s a sad day when a comedian is considered to be one of the most trustworthy newsman in, for the moment, the only superpower. It’s inevitable that if the source of a river is impure then logically it will also be corrupt and I think that irrational lash outs against medical studies that don’t vilify gaming, but are used to do just that, is just the start.

As games journalism is still relatively new and traditions haven’t become established, I think it’s a perfect time for them to shake themselves off and start reporting like real journalists. While they’re at it they can pick me up in their marshmellow bus and we’ll drive to candyland while peace reigns on Earth below us and Hell freezes over.


I really wasn’t expecting to be the voice of dissent on this one, but I have to say I disagree with the article. Or at least, I disagree with the suggestion that the gaming press should have been reporting this “story” as a service to the gaming community.

The mainstream media has a very unfortunate relationship with science. Hungry for stories, they seize on research papers and write them up as news. This is bad, because on top of the fact that the journalists almost never understand the statistical significance of the studies they report, they focus too little on the data and too much on conclusions. In reality, the correct response by mainstream media to a research paper is to print nothing at all in the vast majority of cases. If there really is news there, they should get a clear statement of the news content from a scientist not involved in the research and print that without rewording it.

As far as this particular study goes, the key finding is that modern kids are getting less vitamin D than they need. This, as stated, is not surprising. More detailed conclusions drawn from the data by researchers are “Low vitamin D levels were especially common in children who were older, female, African-American, Mexican-American, obese, drank milk less than once a week, or spent more than four hours a day watching TV, playing videogames, or using computers.”

Only a commentator with a particular agenda would draw the conclusion from a list like that that videogames (or screen use generally) represents any kind of problem. It’s a typical instance of confusing correlation and causation. If a child is spending all their time indoors, then they will probably be using a screen for four or more hours. You won’t ever see the press complaining that reading books is the problem!

I suggest the following headline: “Children should take vitamin D supplements”.

So no, that is not a suitable story for the gaming press.

Dom Camus

In response to “Waggle Therapy” from The Escapist Forum: Ha, very nice. I have to say,

Getting back into shape after the surgery was especially tricky, since he ardently refused to join a gym.

I would also rather wither away than join a gym. I worked out at one for a few years, and it’s the most boring activity I’ve ever taken place in. And I actually enjoy my boring, repetitive work, so that’s saying a lot. Still can’t get my head around the fact that people like it.

Video games have shown to be related to increased dopamine levels?
WHOO!! 😀 Yay! Scientific proof that video games make you happy!
And I’m glad your dad is doing well after surgery.

Eh, anything that makes you happy increases your dopamine levels, from chocolate to cocaine. It’s been known for decades.

And I’m glad your dad is doing well after surgery, as well… any cancer that can be safely removed from the body could have been much worse, no matter how bad it ended up being.

The Random One

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